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Shane Hollingsworth, Dillon Welch, and Nick Speidel three wide in 2012 Montpelier Midget action.         
Photo By Bill Miller
Shane Hollingsworth Celebrates the Inaugural Midget Series Win on April 7, 2012 over a 27 car field.
Photo By Brian McEvoy
 
Montpelier’s Set For Midget Season Doubleheader Season Opener After Inaugural First Season
 
By Greg Watson
 
As longtime USAC Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown competitor Shane Hollingsworth accepted the cheers of the Montpelier Motor Speedway fans for his feature victory on September 15, 2012, it is likely that few in attendance appreciated the leadership role the historical Indiana dirt oval was playing in the evolution of the midget class.  Just one year before, the track was forced to cancel its final two USAC D1 midget races based on a lack of car count.  As has been well documented, midget racing has struggled of late, with skyrocketing engine costs prohibiting all but the best financed teams from competing. In an effort to revive the class on a grassroots level, Montpelier’s promotional team took the unusual step of soliciting feedback from area midget teams on a well known Indiana-based open wheel message board, in hopes of creating a weekly midget class at the facility, something that had been absent in the Midwest racing scene for nearly two decades.  The outcome was a series targeting midget veterans, developmental drivers and blue collar teams with a wide variety of power plants, under a rules package designed to provide a level playing field for all.  Hollingsworth’s thrilling victory over a 20+ car field was evidence that Montpelier’s experiment had succeeded.
The Montpelier Motor Speedway was built in 1903 as ½ mile horse racing track. By the 1950’s auto racing came to the speedway on the ½ mile followed by the construction of the ¼ track in 1986.  The speedway, a ¼ mile D-shaped dirt oval has featured open wheel racing regularly over the last 20 years.  In addition to the USAC midgets, TQs, Focus, Sprints Cars winged and non-winged, and MMSA/AMSA mini sprints have also been included on the schedule.  While the track attracts full competitive fields of modifieds and stock cars, its location approximately 45 minutes south of Fort Wayne places it squarely in the midst of midget open wheel territory, a reasonable haul for Ohio and Illinois drivers as well as those in the Hoosier state.
Area midget enthusiasts eagerly awaited the first date of the series, cautiously predicting a full field given the lack of competing open wheel events, and they were not disappointed, as 27racers were on hand race night including four mini sprints and one Focus.  Familiar names found heat race victories, including Bubba Altig, Thomas Messeraull and Hollingsworth.  Hollingsworth started off the season with feature win over Altig,  Messeraull and Bobby East, while Joe Liguori was the top finishing mini sprint in 14th.  While the initial race was an unqualified success, the reality of a long racing season was still to come, as drivers balanced other racing opportunities, limited budgets, and nearly $4 a gallon gas as they decided where to compete.
An April 28th rainout pushed back the 2nd race of the series to May 12th, with an entry list that featured new names and greater diversity in power plants. Hollingsworth was again victorious over a 14 car field, with eighteen year old POWRI Rookie of the Year Dillon Welch 2nd, and Nick Speidel, a TQ racer since 2004, in third. Liguori, grandson of racing great Ralph Liguori, continued to show that mini sprints could hold their own with a heat race win and a top five feature finish, just ahead of teammate and fiance’ Lynsey Tilton, a IU-PU Engineering School graduate who previously participated in the Ford Racing woman driver development program.   
 On May 26th, with Speidel posting his first career midget win over Kent Schmidt, Tilton and Liguori,.  Making matters worse, before race four could be held on June 30th a violent storm caused major damage to the track. Carrying winds estimated in excess of 70 miles per hour, the storm damaged several poles containing the speedway's lighting and speaker system, with the falling poles damaging a large portion of the turn 1 catch fence and a falling tree damaging the speedway's fire truck.  The series returned on July 28th; while only 11 cars entered, and well-known midget driver Critter Malone took the feature over Liguori, Tilton and Speidel, further back in the field a number of new names appeared.  Second generation driver Stratton Briggs and 22 year old 2011 USSA Kenyon Midget Champion Jessica Bean competed in a Focus cars, while Miami University student Alex Watson traveled from Columbus Ohio to race his mini sprint, and 19 year old ARDC midget series competitor Justin Grosz drove over 600 miles from of eastern Pennsylvania to compete.  Watson shared his perspective after the race. “I’ve held my own against midgets before on a much smaller track, but I was concerned that my mini sprint’s stock R1 Yamaha couldn’t compete on a ¼ mile.  The slick racing surface and no wing gave me a chance to run with the more powerful cars.  We will definitely come back, given the great payout, friendly staff, and the quick program which got us back to Columbus no later than if we had run closer to home”. 
An overcast afternoon on August 4th led to a torrential downpour after heat races, postponing feature action until August 18th.  Western Pennsylvania’s Brandon Matus took the makeup feature win on the 18th in longtime midget owner Don Moore’s car, over Ligouri and Watson. Bloomington Indiana’s Michael Koontz took the second feature over Matus and Bean.
The stage was set for the final race of the year on September 15.  At this point the success of the series was still up in the air, as the midget community had yet to recreate the excitement generated by the first race in April.  While the track was quick to voice its ongoing support, it was apparent a strong showing of cars would be needed to assure the continuation for the series in 2013.  Message boards were once again abuzz leading up to the 15th, questioning the turnout and the competitiveness of the minis.  Twenty-one cars rolled through the gates.  The midgets of Travis Berryhill and Kurt Mayhew took top spots in heat one. Wisconsin racer Todd Lehr in a full midget took heat two over Watson’s Yamaha, while Speidel won the final heat over Tate Martz in the Moore entry.  A redraw placed Lehr and Berryhill on the front row of the feature, with Watson and Martz in row two, followed by Hollingsworth and Mayhew.  An early spin sent Hollingsworth to the tail, and on lap nine Martz caught the guardrail and flipped, bringing out the red.  He was able to restart, getting up on the wheel and running even harder on the high line as he made his way back to the front.  For much of the race Watson used the low line in his mini sprint to hold onto a top five position.  The crowd was thrilled as Hollingworth charged through the field, catching Berryhill in the late stages of the race, then swapping the lead with him on every turn.  A late caution set up a green/white/checked finish with Hollingsworth, Berryhill, Mayhew, Lehr, and Speidel as the top five. On the restart Martz flew around the rim, picking off four cars in the final two laps, just inching out Watson coming off turn four to take sixth.  The Focus of Stratton Briggs was eighth, ahead of the mini sprints of Rob Winks and Nick Daughtery who rounded out the top ten.  Despite falling out of the feature early with mechanical problems, Tilton joined Hollingsworth in victory circle to be recognized as the Series first champion.  Liguori, had previously experienced engine problems and had not entered for the evening, but held on for second in points over Speidel, with local midget veteran Gary Bradley in fourth and Watson rounding out the top five.
Tilton summed up her championship as follows, “I am very happy to win the first midget championship at Montpelier. We had our ups and down this year but it was great for the track to give us a place to run. Joe was able to show that mini sprints can be competitive with a couple of heat race wins and almost a feature win. I hope that car owners and drivers will continue to support Montpelier in the coming seasons as they have started something that most tracks wouldn't take on. I have to thank everyone at the track, American racer, Schroeder torsion bars, and Indy powder coat for their support in 2012”
With midget racing at a crossroads, its long history challenged by runaway costs, could it return to its roots of faithful fans cheering its working class competitors at little bullrings across the Midwest?  Montpelier Motor Speedway’s experiment demonstrated that all hope is not lost, and their formula could be the template for midget racing’s future.
The Montpelier Motor Speedway Midget series will kick off its 2013 season celebrating 110 years of racing in Montpelier, Indiana with a double header weekend, April 5 and April 6.  The 110 Anniversary race weekend will feature the Montpelier Motor Speedway Midget division, UMP Modifieds, Super Streets, Thunder Cars, and FWD Compacts.
 
Midget Double Header Weekend
 
April 5, Friday and April 6, Saturday
Complete Show and Cash Payout Each Night!
 
Classes
Midgets | UMP Modifieds | Super Streets | Thunder Cars | FWD Compacts
 
Ticket Info (Each Night)
 
General Admission $10
Kids (12 and Under) - FREE (with paid adult)
Pit Pass $25
 
Times
 
Friday
Gates Open - 3:00PM
Hot Laps - 6:00 PM
Racing - 7:00 PM
 
Saturday
Gates Open - 12:00
Hot Laps - 5:00 PM
Racing 6:30 PM
 
Camping
- Primitive overnight camping is free for fans and competitors.
- Camp fires permitted. Camp fires must be self contained. Self clean up is required. Please no wood with nails.

 
Hotels
 
Marion, Indiana - 15 Miles From Track
America's Best Value Inn & Suites - Exit 264 (I69 & 18) - 765-664-5840
 
Portland, Indiana - 25 Miles From Track
www.visitjaycounty.com for lodging options and info
 
 
2013 Schedule - 10 Dates
April 5, Friday
April 6, Saturday
April 20, Saturday
May 4, Saturday
May 18, Saturday
July 27, Saturday
August 17, Saturday
September 7, Saturday
September 14, Saturday
September 28, Saturday
 
Driver Requirements
- RACEceiver Radios required for 2013 season
- 2013 Montpelier Motor Speedway Competitors License is required for the driver only and is valid for the entire 2013 season. The form can be found on our website
 
Midget Trophy Sponsor
American Racer - American Racer Tire Dealer - Tony Rose - Phone:  317-823-2475
 
Website
Official Website - www.MontpelierMotorSpeedway.com
Facebook - "Home of the Montpelier Motor Speedway" - www.facebook.com/MontpelierMotorSpeedway
Twitter - @Montpelier Track - https://twitter.com/MontpelierTrack
 

Montpelier Motor Speedway - 700 South Jefferson Street - Montpelier, Indiana 47359

Owners & Promoters - Harold & Lori Hunter

Track Phone 765-728-8210